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Latest Arsenal team news ahead of Slavia Prague clash

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Arsenal will be looking to progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League for the second time in three seasons when they travel to the Czech Republic to face Slavia Prague on Thursday evening.

The tie is evenly balanced at 1-1 following last week’s first-leg at the Emirates Stadium, meaning it is all to play for in both teams’ ambitions of reaching the last-four.

Arsenal thought they had done enough to win the first-leg last Thursday when Nicolas Pepe handed them an 86th-minute lead.

However, Slavia right-back Tomas Holes nodded home deep into stoppage time to deny the Gunners the victory and grab a crucial away goal.

But the Gunners, who have since got back to winning ways, defeating Sheffield United 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday evening at Bramall Lane, are facing a turbulent time in the build up to Thursday’s huge clash, with injury and illness issues within the camp increasing.

With that in mind, here is a round-up of all the very latest on the Gunners injury front ahead of their trip to Prague later this week.

David Luiz

Centre-back Luiz is already a confirmed absentee for the trip to the Czech Republic after undergoing minor knee surgery earlier this month.

The former Chelsea man was forced to go under the knife after missing the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on April 3.

Arsenal confirmed that the procedure had gone well and that he would have aims to be back available in the “upcoming weeks.”

“The procedure has been a success and David is now back at home rehabilitating,” an Arsenal statement said.

“He will be able to return to daily support and recovery with our medical team at the training centre in the coming days.

Kieran Tierney

Just like Luiz, fellow defender Tierney is also sidelined with a knee problem, but he has not been forced to undergo an operation like his teammate.

The Scotland international, who has been one of the Gunners’ star performers this season, is in danger of missing the remainder of the season after suffering ligament damage.

Arsenal expect him to be out of action for around four to six weeks, which means there is a genuine prospect that he may not play again this season

“David is expected to be back to full fitness and available for selection in the upcoming weeks.”

However, Arsenal will be keeping their fingers crossed that he can make a swift return and be fit and available for Scotland at this summer’s European Championships.

Bukayo Saka

winger saka was forced off with just over 20 minutes remaining of the gunners’ win over sheffield united on sunday evening after feeling some discomfort in his thigh.

The England international was thought to have been withdrawn as a precautionary measure, so to not make the matter worse he was replaced by former Chelsea ace Willian.

Addressing Saka’s condition following the full-time whistle, Gunners manager Mikel Arteta said: “(Saka) had some discomfort in his thigh. I don’t know what it is. The last thing we need is another issue because we have enough of that and are missing some big players at the momen

“I don’t know the extent but we will see how it develops in the coming days

Fortunately, Saka, when spotted leaving Bramall Lane to board the team bus, was not using crutche

Arteta will issue an update on the winger when he speaks to the media ahead of the clash with Prague’s.

Martin Odegaard

Having overcome a slight ankle problem that he picked up on international duty during the recent break, Odegaard started the Gunners’ defeat to Liverpool at the start of April.

However, he has since missed the last two matches with another ankle issue, meaning he now faces a race against time to be fit for the trip to Prague.

Ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Blades, Arsenal confirmed that the Real Madrid loanee would face a late fitness test to determine whether or not he could have made the squad. Of course, looking back now, he didn’t, but the fact that he faced a late test provides hope that he could be nearing a return.

Arteta will issue an update on him when addressing the media in the build-up to Thursday’s game.

Emile Smith Rowe

Whilst the Gunners faced a left-back conundrum at Bramall Lane, they also faced a central attacking-midfield one, too, as Smith Rowe, alongside Odegaard, also missed out.

The Gunners academy graduate missed the trip to South Yorkshire because of an ankle injury he picked up in the first-leg against Slavia last week.

When asked if Smith Rowe, alongside Odegaard, would be fit for Thursday’s match, following Sunday’s win at Bramall Lane, Arteta said: “I don’t know. I want to think yes but if I’m honest I don’t know.”

The Gunners will be hoping that at least one of them is deemed fit and available.

Gabriel Martinelli

After twisting his ankle against the Blades, Brazilian star Martinelli, who finally ended his long wait for a goal, was another name to add to the Gunners’ growing list of concerns.

However, the attacker has since put those fears to bed, confirming that he will be available to feature against Slavia if called upon by Arteta.

Speaking to the Gunners’ club website, he, when asked if he was carrying an injury problem, said: “No, I am alright to play on Thursday.”

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Striker Aubameyang was forced to miss the win against the Blades through illness, meaning Arteta was unable to call upon his captain to inspire the Gunners to get back to winning ways.

However, Aubameyang soon took to social media to admit he was hopeful of returning to the squad for the trip to Prague.

In an Instagram post, the Gabon international said: “Gutted I can’t be out there with the team tonight, but hopefully back healthy on Thursday!”

“Let’s go boys!! @arsenal.”

Arteta will provide an update on the striker’s condition during his pre-match press conference.

 

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📺 Miquel Azeez is Simply Outstanding, Watch As He Nutmegs 3 Defenders To Score A Goal

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Miquel Azeez Has Been Outstanding For Arsenal Un23 side this season, he continues his great run of form yesterday as score a man of the match goal to hand Arsenal Un23 side a victory in the final game of the season.

📺 Watch The Great Goal…

https://twitter.com/ArsenalAcademy/status/1392523112919486473?s=19

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Arsenal to agree deal with Italian head-coach

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Maurizio Sarri could reportedly be in line for a surprise return to Premier League with either Arsenal or Tottenham.

 

The Italian tactician has been out of work since being given the boot by the Serie A giants Juventus last August – in spite of guiding the Old Lady to their 36th Scudetto.

 

Sarri is understood to be eager to get back in the dugout next term, with Italian journalist Carlo Laudisa stating the 62-year-old could very well return to the English top-flight.

 

During an appearance on Radio Punto Nuovo, the Gazzetta dello Sport journalist said: “Sarri could go to England.

 

“The Tottenham solution being the most plausible, but the Arsenal bench could also become free, as [Mikel] Arteta has missed all the Gunners’ season goals.”

 

Carlo’s claim that Maurizio could return to England comes in spite of reports the veteran coach is against the idea of resuming his career abroad.

 

The former Napoli leader is reportedly concerned about upping sticks during the COVID-19 pandemic in case he is unable to return to his homeland.

 

He enjoyed success during his sole campaign in charge of Chelsea, guiding the Blues to UEFA Europa League glory with a 4-1 win over Arsenal in Baku.

 

If Sarri is indeed open to managing the Gunners, he’ll no doubt be keeping tabs on developments at the club over the coming weeks.

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Video Highlights, Full Match Analysis: Chelsea 0 – 1 Arsenal

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Emile Smith Rowe denied Chelsea the chance to cement their top-four status as he took advantage of Jorginho’s howler to give Arsenal a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues would have all but secured their Champions League qualification with a victory which would have taken them 10 points clear of Liverpool, who have four games left to play, but after making seven changes ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final, struggled to create clear-cut chances.

Kai Havertz should have put them ahead 10 minutes in when he intercepted Gabriel’s loose pass for Pablo Mari and raced clean through, but then fired over Bernd Leno’s bar with only his compatriot to beat. Moments later Jorginho’s equally poor back-pass was kept out by Kepa Arrizabalaga at full stretch, but Smith Rowe was on hand to bundle home after being teed up by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Chelsea were dominant for the large majority of the remaining 75 minutes without forcing Leno into any uncomfortable saves until the final minute. They did beat him through Pulisic’s close-range header from a corner, which was swiftly denied by a VAR review, before the German produced a stunning stop to tip Kurt Zouma’s header onto the crossbar, which was then rattled by Olivier Giroud’s shot on the rebound.

Player Ratings

Chelsea: Kepa (6), James (6), Azpilicueta (6), Silva (6), Zouma (6), Chilwell (5), Jorginho (4), Gilmour (5), Pulisic (5), Mount (6), Havertz (5).

Subs: Hudson-Odoi (6), Giroud (6), Ziyech (5).

Arsenal: Leno (7), Gabriel (6), Mari (7), Holding (6), Tierney (7), Partey (6), Elneny (8), Saka (5), Odegaard (6), Smith Rowe (7), Aubameyang (5).

Subs: Bellerin (6), Lacazette (5), Chambers (6).

Man of the match: Mohamed Elneny

What the managers said…

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel told Sky Sports: “We had three days, we are on a good run, we had a good mood. The choices were not so good today from my side for the line-up so that’s on me. We were unlucky, of course. But we did everything today to lose.

“I’m not happy with my line-up. It’s easy to say afterwards. But it was too many changes, I should not have done it like this. It’s something in particular – but I will not tell you!”

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta told Sky Sports: “I don’t know how they’re going to try from the outside but from the inside, nothing is broken.

“They’re going to put things on me that I never said, you can see the spirit of the team from the first minute. You can never doubt their efforts and how much they try.”

Match stats

  1. Arsenal completed their first Premier League double over Chelsea since the 2003-04 season, while this was their first league win at Stamford Bridge since October 2011, ending an eight-game winless run there (D2 L6).
  2. Chelsea suffered only their third defeat in 26 matches in all competitions under Thomas Tuchel (W17 D6), with all three defeats coming at Stamford Bridge.
  3. Arsenal have won three consecutive away Premier League matches without conceding for the first time since May 2013 under Arsène Wenger.
  4. Arsenal have had a different player aged younger than 21 score in each of their last three Premier League matches against Chelsea – Gabriel Martinelli in January 2020, Bukayo Saka in December 2020 and Emile Smith Rowe tonight.

What’s next?

Chelsea are off to Wembley in the FA Cup final on Saturday, where they will face Leicester City; Kick-off at 5.15pm.

Arsenal’s penultimate game of the season is also in London, with a trip to Crystal Palace next Wednesday night; Kick-off at 7pm.

📽️ Watch The Video Highlights:

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